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Ailing Russian air pilot Yaroshenko writes from US prison to Putin for help

His condition got notably worse over the past few days

NEW YORK, February 17 (Itar-Tass) - Russian air pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, serving a 20-year jail term in the United States on drug smuggling attempt charges, has written a message to President Vladimir Putin with a request for assistance in securing his return home, his lawyer Aleksei Tarasov told Itar-Tass on Sunday.

“I am asking you to address the United States and President Barack Obama in person with a request for my early transfer to Russia. At home I have my wife, daughter and 73-year-old mother, whom I have not seen for many years and whom I would like to see at least once in my lifetime,” runs the message Yaroshenko has written together with his lawyer Aleksei Tarasov, who visited him at Fort Dix prison in New Jersey. 

In his message the pilot complains about his poor health, which got notably worse over the past few days. The medics Yaroshenko’s lawyer has talked to have warned of the risk of a heart attack. The prison authorities have refused to provide urgent medical assistance to the jailed Russian.

“Critical health condition was the main reason why he has written a message addressed to the Russian president,” Tarasov said, adding that the message addressed to Putin would be handed over to Russia’s general consul in New York Igor Golubovsky.

Conditions in the prison

According to the lawyer, Yaroshenko is kept in appalling conditions.

“The prison cell is impermissibly cold. He even has to sleep with warm clothes on. There are twelve people in the cell. The other inmates say they can often see Konstantin literally chocking, unable to inhale or exhale. Also, he has growing speech disruption problems. He stammers and is unable to pronounce some words,” Tarasov said. 

Earlier, Tarasov said that Yaroshenko, whose health has deteriorated over the past few days, was told by the prison authorities he could undergo only ultrasound examination. In the meantime, the medics the lawyer has contacted are warning of the risk of a heart attack. Tarasov said the prison authorities had shown no intention to let Yaroshenko undergo examination for heart failure. Yaroshenko’s repeated requests addressed to the prison administration have remained unanswered.

Yaroshenko arrest and sentence

On September 7, 2011 Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years. He had been brought to the United States from Liberia, where he was arrested on May 28, 2010.

Agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency allegedly exposed his criminal intention to transport a large batch of narcotic drugs. It was the first-ever instance of US secret services abducting a Russian citizen in the territory of a third country and secretly taking him to the United States.